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Braydon

The Diamond, Longs Peak

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My uncle and I are interested in trying the Diamond on Longs Peak. Has anyone done this route? How many pitches is it and how hard is it?

 

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Standard route (easiest) = 10b, 8+ pitches (?)

 

At 14,000 feet too. Many visitors forget to take that into account.

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The Casual Route is 10a- all other free routes are at least a number grade harder. But at that altitude, the consensus is that grades feel a number grade harder than at sea level. The Diamond is a remote alpine wall with regular thunderstorm activity in most afternoons in summer so a crack of dawn start on the route is prudent to be off around noon. The climbing and setting is amazing.

 

I would recommend some less committing climbs in RMNP first to get a feel for things.

 

Get a guidebook and read up.

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I second the advice to get an early start! You do not want to be on the wall when the thunderstorms are out!

 

There's an easy trail to the base, but I'd recommend hiking up the standard walkup route to Chasm View then rap down to Broadway. It's faster and more fun to do it that way then scramble up the chimney to Broadway.

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Definitely plan on completing the climb and being on the descent by early afternoon. By 2pm, you will see rain clouds rolling in and lightning activity is not unusual. Remember to research the cable route rappel to return quickly to the Chasm View bivy spot.

 

You can bivy there, have a casual stroll to the base of Casual Route and make quick work of the actual climb. Then you will have plenty of time for returning to the trailhead by the evening after the climb.

 

Make sure to read the Casual Route correctly - there is a traverse to the left after the first couple pitches toward a dihedral system. There was only one pin behind a flake for the entire traverse when I did it back in '89. I was warned that if one attempts the traverse below the actual line, then it becomes much more difficult; that is the "Casualty Route" variation I was told!

 

The 5.10- part is only a half rope length near the top to gain the ledge traverse to the left before exiting the face. The rest of the climb was superbly enjoyable easier stuff.

 

Have fun. It is a great location for a climb.

 

Erden.

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The Casual Route is a great route- as far as the technical difficulties, I think the long, sustained 5.8ish corners, the 5.8 squeeze chimney under the crux bulge, making sure you follow the traverse correctly, and the approach to and along broadway in the dark are the real cruxes.

 

You should aim to be the first pair on the route by being roped up and ready to climb at 1st light, around 45min before sunrise imo. The closer you can get to Table Ledge by 11am (also when the face goes into shadow), the less likely you are to be rained off, although sometimes you can get lucky and have no storms until late afternoon or evening. Last time I was up there getting rained off of Yellow Wall, the guy on the route next to me complained of being rained off for the 13th time in a row before completing his route...

 

Weather is more stable in early summer, but the cracks may be wetter and Broadway will have hard snow (making approach shoes + nut tool self arrest a bit desperate lol). A nice thing about early season (in addition to more stable weather and longer days) is the easy approach up the North Chimney with axe and boots, which sure as hell beats scrambling up the damn thing later on when it is a loose nightmare.

 

Myself, I like camping in the Boulderfield, scrambling to Chasm View at 13,500ft and rapping down to Broadway before dawn. A caveat is that you might not sleep so well at the windy 13k foot sites in the Boulderfield if you are not acclimated to the altitude...

 

An alternative to The Diamond is the neighboring Chasm View Wall's Directissima Route (III 5.9+): comparable climbing, easier approach and descent, sunny position and fantastic view of the Diamond throughout the day. It's a great primer for the Casual Route imo!

 

Good Luck.

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